US threatens visa ban on crew of Iranian tanker after failing to block Gibraltar departure

TEHRAN, Aug. 16 (MNA) – The United States on Thursday threatened a visa ban on the crew of a seized Iranian supertanker whose departure from Gibraltar Washington failed to block.

"Crewmembers of vessels assisting the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) by transporting oil from Iran may be ineligible for visas or admission to the United States under the terrorism-related inadmissibility grounds," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said, according to France 24 TV website.

Ortagus said the Grace 1 was assisting IRGC, which the US considers as 'terrorists.'

"The maritime community should be aware that the US government intends to revoke visas held by members of such crews," he said, adding "in the case of the M/T Grace I, we will continue to act consistent with our existing policies concerning those who provide material support to the IRGC."

Hours before the announcement, the US had launched a last-minute legal move demanding that the British overseas territory detain the ship.

Gibraltar police and British special forces seized the Grace 1, carrying 2.1 million barrels of Iranian oil, on July 4, provoking a diplomatic crisis, followed by Iran's seizing of the UK oil tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran stresses that seizure of the UK-flagged oil tanker took place after it ignored international maritime rules, while calling the UK action in capturing the Iranian supertanker 'an act of piracy.'

After the release of Grace 1, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the US attempts to take control of the vessel yesterday as 'an attempted piracy.'

KI/PR

News Code 148913

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